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130-mile walk aims to shine light on homelessness in isles

By Marcie Kagawa / mkagawa@staradvertiser.com

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 10:24 a.m. HST, Dec 18, 2012



Abandoned and left homeless as a child, Ewa Beach resident Will Humble said he knows what it's like for many of Hawaii's homeless people and hopes to reach out to them by participating in a four-day, 130-mile walk around Oahu starting Wednesday.

As an 8-year-old, Humble and his older brother, who lived in Sacramento, Calif., were left under a bridge by their mother and were homeless for three months until being put in foster care. When he was 12, Humble's mother regained custody of him, but he again ended up on the streets for a few months. He was put in foster care until he was 16.

Lt. Shawn Osborne, a chaplain with the Naval Submarine Support Command, organized the walk that he, Humble and four others will participate in to promote awareness of Oahu's growing poverty and homeless problem and encourage people to donate to River of Life Mission in Chinatown.

HOW TO HELP

People can make a donation to the River of Life Mission by calling 524-7656 or at river of life mission.org.

"I was doing some background work, just doing some reading online on homelessness and poverty on Oahu, and I was amazed. It is a lot worse than I thought," Osborne said. "I'm doing it (the walk) to raise awareness of homelessness and poverty on the island generally, but specifically to raise money and get supplies for the River of Life Mission because they are really doing the tip-of-the-spear work."

Humble, 24, a petty officer first class in the Navy who has been volunteering at River of Life Mission for five years with Pearl Harbor Memorial Church, said he is participating in the walk not only because he has been homeless before, but because he believes it is important for those who can to give back and raise awareness on issues like poverty and homelessness.

"Honestly, the biggest thing that I'm looking forward to is getting out and making a difference," he said. "It's having the opportunity to talk to the homeless, make them aware of the River of Life and just reach out to them to let them know there's help out there."

Bob Marchant, River of Life Mission executive director, said he was surprised when he found out Osborne and others planned to walk around the island to benefit the nonprofit.

"A lot of military guys do things to help us, but this walk around the island is a pretty big endeavor," he said. "This is the first time somebody's done something like this for us."

The walk begins Wednesday at Kailua Beach and will take the group through Kawela Bay — Wai­anae's "tent city" — on Thursday, Keehi Lagoon Memorial Park on Friday, then back to Kailua on Saturday evening.

Osborne said the group will walk about 12 hours a day to cover the 130 miles around the island and will camp on beaches at night.

"I live in Kailua, and I've got homeless people that are almost right outside my door," he said. "Every day I drive by, and they've got their makeshift homes, which are really little more than a tarp and backpack. I think, four days and I'll be done, but they'll still be there."

Osborne said he hopes to make the walk an annual event.






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